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netribution > features > interview with sandra grant
On descending into the Raindance film festival headquarters, situated practically beneath London's Berwick Street, I felt that flushed awkwardness akin to treading on a disgustingly expensive, 700 year old Iranian carpet. Perhaps I'm confusing you though. There was nothing opulent about the sight before me, this war room was starved, indeed dismissive of natural light and was festooned with priceless festival related bumpf acting as supporting pillars for an unnaturally low ceiling. Aware of my gauche tendencies amid such an environment I awaited my summoning with a timid grin disguising awe at the furious din, flashing LED's and controlled imbroglio of activity. Yes, I felt like a clumsy flunky delivering an unbalanced tray of scalding tea to Churchill, along with his childhood mug, on the eve of D-Day.
Before me sat an unnaturally serene woman clacking away quietly and conscientiously at a cherry iMac, she looked up without breaking her 45wpm and looked away leaving me every inch the outsider I was. This charming picture of composure was later introduced to me as Sandra Grant, Raindance publicist and producer of the British Independent Film Awards for the past three odd years.


| by tom fogg
tom fogg
| in london

Where did this woman come from I pondered, she's no indie filmmaker - too calm and she's spent money on her hair. So I asked, "My background is actually in fashion and I moved into film a few years ago. I worked in a large company initially and then branched off to do my own thing - eventually into film. But I gained an awful lot of marketing and publicity experience from pop promos and commercials through production houses. Then I started working at Raindance"

With the relentless 'tacker tack' of a credit card machine and a TV piercing my left ear with what sounded like the battle for Arnhem, I attempted to ask her how and why on Earth she would want to do such a thing. "Just one of those things (laughs) it just drifted that way. They are quite similar in certain aspects." News to this chump, how so? " Well, independent filmmakers and designers are both trying to achieve something, gain recognition for their work - similar perseverance, tenacity and ambition. But I do prefer film now."

Perhaps I was mistaken but Sandra and Elliot seemed like opposites, " A colleague of mine shot a film with Elliot and mentioned that they were looking for someone to do the festival's publicity so I pitched for it and got it. And he hasn't been able to get rid of me since have you Elliot!? (laughs)"

Starting to relax now I thought of laughing too but was cut short by a flurry of bodies, faces with that perpetual, doctor on the zombie shift, frown of intent.

Come now Tom, concentrate! Tell me about the BIFA's please Sandra, " We founded them three years ago, the aim is to celebrate achievement in independent film production, to recognise newcomers and to have a damn good party. We are now in our fourth year and they were previously held at the Café Royale but this year it'll be held at the Park lane Hotel on October 24."

It's all in hand now as I ask about these awards that seem to typify the industry's energy of late, "A complete and utter mix. We have quite a few awards that actually support newcomers to the business, like the Douglas Hickox award for the best film by a debut British feature director. There's awards for best newcomer on screen and for best newcomer off screen and a best values in production award which credits the best value a film can achieve from it's initial budget. We get an awful lot of newcomers coming along and we get the older filmmaking establishment too - and an excellent range of sponsors like FilmFour, FilmFinders, IFG etc."

This information fuels my enthusiasm but I'm weaving around outstretched arms and under phone cords to take photos. "Annabel Hickox walked in one day - she knew us through taking our Moving into Producing course - telling us that her late husband's estate had a £10,000 sum that both he and she and their friends had put together. They wanted to do something useful for emerging filmmakers so they'd gone to PACT who'd told them that the whole lot might pay a part of a champagne reception (much laughter). I asked her how much interest she got from it every year and she said about £500 so Elliot suggested we use the interest as an award for the best debut feature by a British director. She liked that idea and so Shane Meadows got it the first year for 24-7, then Lynne Ramsey for Ratcatcher and Kevin MacDonald got it last year for One Day in September. That's how we started."

Along with her year-round publicity work for Raindance, I though award ceremonies were a full time deal. Is this some ruse? I try to clarify her position in my mind with perhaps the most daft question I've ever asked, "…so you are the awards are you?" I must thank Sandra for sparing me the ridicule I quite clearly deserved, "(laughing) Yes, I produce it"

Oh and for her sympathy for the greeting I received earlier, I've come through the other side - you understand. "In terms of what we turn out from such a small space it's incredible, it's manic and did anyone even look at you when you came in?! (laughs)"

For more info on the British Independent Film Awards and on how to sponsor an award,
phone - (44) 207 287 3833
Email -
Or check out the website at -

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